COVID-19 started in Wuhan, China. That’s a geographic location. Having Asian ancestry – or any other ancestry – does not make someone more susceptible to the virus or more contagious. Unfortunately, as the coronavirus has spread from China to other countries, anti-Asian discrimination has followed closely behind. Attacks upon a population in the wake of a viral outbreak is familiar. When Ebola emerged in 2014, Africans were targeted. During the SARS outbreak, East Asians bore the brunt. For this reason, the World Health Organization opted against naming COVID-19 after the geographical location where it emerged, as it did with Ebola, which was named after the river in the Congo where it was first detected. According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesys, the WHO directed-general, “Stigma, to be honest, is more dangerous than the virus itself.” Still some media outlets and U.S. leaders continue to refer to the virus as the “Wuhan virus.”
In recent weeks Asian Americans have described haunting experiences of being yelled at, spit on and physically attacked. The New York City Human Rights prohibits discrimination based on race. The New York State Human Rights law does so as well.
If you or anyone that you know has been subjected to the type of discrimination described here, seek the help of experienced employment counsel like at the attorneys at Schwartz Perry & Heller.